The Darfur Consortium

. . .

Darfur in the News

Arab media

February 18 , 2008

Source: Al Hayat
Headline: Sudanese Minister and War Crimes’ Suspect, Ahmed Harun, Accuses Darfur Rebels of Committing All Kinds of War Crimes and Denies Committing Any Crime and Describes ICC Continued Handover Demands as a Psychological War
By: Annour Ahmed Annour

Sudanese Minister of Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Harun, who is wanted by International Criminal Court for war crimes, defended himself against these accusations and denied committing any crimes, explaining he was doing his job of protecting Darfur civilians from Darfur rebel attacks. He discounted the possibility that his government would use him as a bargaining chip. He told Al Hayat that he leads a normal life and does not pay attention to ICC’s handover demands, describing these demands as a psychological war and described the issue as politically-motivated rather than criminal. Harun added that he is living on “borrowed time” given that most of his comrades “became martyrs” and that he deals with death on a monthly basis through family members’ natural deaths, explaining that his personal safety was not linked to being in government

The following is the text of the interview.

ICC accuses you of committing and ordering multiple killings, raids, looting, rape, and forced displacement of civilians in 2003 and 2004, how do you respond?

It is a known fact that the war was started by rebels whether as part of “Sudan Liberation Movement” “Justice and Equality Movement” or a splinter of these two groups while making political demands. Those demands whether right or wrong do not justify resorting to violence against civilians or the government.  The rebels attacked and killed civilians and government police. The government responded from a position of defense.  The government assumed its natural position of defending and protecting its citizens, their properties and its government buildings and institutions.  If, for example an American citizen took up arms against the government there, he would be called a terrorist. There is no government that sets itself on fire, we do not have any personal or institutional vendetta against Darfur population. On the contrary, we went there to protect the civilian population, so the accusation is without merit

Do you think resolving the ICC issue will be political or legal?

There is no armed conflict that was resolved in court. It is a political issue and will have to be resolved in that frame.  We have experience in dealing with similar situations when we resolved the conflict between North and South Sudan.  The first step is to achieve ceasefire, the second to reach a political settlement, the third to achieve national reconciliation, and finally accountability. In the case of Darfur, things were turned upside down.

If there is reconciliation between Sudan and the rest of the world on Darfur, do you think the ICC issue would be tabled?  

The government’s position is that the ICC has no place in this crisis at all

Why Ahmed Harun and not the minister of defense or interior?

ICC is in a better position to answer that question. Ahmed Harun does not work for his own account, he represents a government and that is the aim of the ICC

Does his mean then that accusations against you are not true?

I don’t find any truth in them.  Do you think that Ahmed Harun started the war in Darfur, and was able to maintain it war all these years? No logic can accept that.

One of the accusations against you says that you were seen giving weapons to militia fighters and paying their salaries

The truth is that thee colonial mentality in the West wants to portray us as savage, primitive societies. We have an established government where no minister can work as a treasurer who hands out money like that. The media relishes stories about primitive regimes where a minister can hand out money, as if there were no rules, standards or checks and balance

You are now Minister of Humanitarian Affairs despite the fact that you are accused of crimes against humanity. There are those who see this appointment as an effort to absolve you. How do you reply?

The explanation is simple. When I was in charge of internal affairs at the ministry of the interior, I was responsible for the safety of civilians, and that is not at all different from my current position

There are rumors that say you met with Western ambassadors to negotiate the ICC issue?

First off, this never happened. Because these rumors are wrong and so damaging, I filed – in person – a lawsuit.  However, despite all that I do not pay attention to the ICC, I am at peace with myself because I did no commit any crime. And thankfully I have a legal background and worked as a judge, these legal issues do not worry me

Do you think the accusations against you are personal or political?

Of course, it is political. One of the means of the psychological war against the country. They first accused 51 people, then 15, and now only two

Do you think your position in the government provides you needed protection?

Never! My true protection comes from the fact that we did not commit any crimes. This is a political game, a futile one at that

Do you think the government would use you as a bargaining chip with the ICC?

No.  This is not one of its values. There is not even a 1% chance that this would happen.

If you leave the government, would you return to your Kordufan hometown to be among your people for protection?

No. I will stay in Khartoum. I am not afraid

They say ICC accusations would not drop with passage of time, do you expect to be arrested one day and be tried at the ICC?

I am not concerned. This has nothing to do with international justice

Can you travel outside Sudan?


How do people treat you when you visit Darfur?

Their support for me is far greater in Darfur than anywhere else. People in Darfur are able to distinguish the truth. They know who started the war and disrupted their way of life

If the government is no longer in power how does that affect your case?

This is a national case in the first place. A case of national pride, dignity and sovereignty. The only difference is that today it is Ahmed Harun and next maybe someone else

Don’t you think that you have to explain yourself to the international community?

Not at all.  If I did, I would have played into their hands.  The international community knows who started the conflict.  The rebels are the ones who committed all kinds of horrible war crimes in Darfur. They did not abide by any standards or rules

Don’t you think that you were responsible for some violence whether through government or militia forces?

I will tell something very important: I swear there was no systemic operation to commit any mistakes. Individual mistakes, however, took place.  But we dealt with any mistake that came to our attention. If the military bombed a village by mistake, we – myself and the minister of defense – used to go to the village and talk to the residents and compensate them for their losses.  It happened in Um Kuzwine, Abu Duma, and Hbila.  Any individual mistakes committed by military or police, we referred that to military court for appropriate punishment

How do you think this case will end? Or do you think it will continue against Sudan

They – the West – sees the world based on clashes and conflict, and that it is God who chose them to rule the world.  They are not at peace with the rest of the world.  They declared their civilization the winner. Their goal is to break this government because they think it represents values inconsistent with theirs and therefore a threat to them. That is why they will continue this plan till they make Sudan their playground and that is impossible


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